Gromyko offers to meet Western peace group
Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko told a Western peace group that he is willing to discuss Moscow's recent offer to destroy some intermediate-range nuclear missiles.
He agreed to elaborate on the Soviet proposal with a coalition of peace organizations from the United States and five West European countries. The news came in a message sent by Mr. Gromyko to Miert van Faber, head of the Interchurch Peace Council of the Netherlands.
''No date has been fixed,'' Mr. Faber said. ''But we hope to go to Moscow as soon as possible.''
In July, the peace coalition sent letters to Gromyko and US Secretary of State George Shultz asking for meetings. The groups in the coalition are based in the US and in the five West European countries due to start receiving US cruise and Pershing II nuclear missiles in coming months. These countries include West Germany, Britain, Italy, Belgium, and the Netherlands.
He said that in the meeting with Gromyko, the peace coalition would urge the Soviet Union to ''unilaterally'' dismantle intermediate-range nuclear missiles on its European territory beginning in October.
''Such a move could break the deadlock in Geneva,'' he said. ''And it would certainly change the political climate in Europe.''
In late August, Soviet President Yuri Andropov said that if NATO dropped its plan to deploy 572 new US nuclear missiles in Western Europe, Moscow would destroy enough Soviet intermediate-range missiles to reach the level of French and British nuclear missiles, which number an estimated 162.
A favorable reply has also been received from the US State Department, according to Mr. Faber.
In its letter to Shultz, the coalition said it wanted to discuss the possibility of the US delaying the deployment of the missiles. The State Department reply, however, did not specify whether Secretary Shultz would attend the meeting himself or send a representative.
''For us,'' said Mr. Faber, ''it's a precondition that Shultz attend, otherwise, there's no point in having the meeting.''